As spring finally emerges, you may begin to see a lot more blue skies, and bright futures, but you will also see blue ribbons, blue pinwheels, and women carrying around blue trash bags to raise awareness for a very dark subject in our community that doesn’t always bring about blue skies or bright futures: child abuse.
Since 2016, there are have been 12 child abuse or neglect deaths in Wichita. Twelve. That is an entire soccer team, plus a substitution. Are we doing enough as a community to combat this?
Well…lets start by putting things into perspective:
According to the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF), on January 31, 2020, there were 7,472 children in out of home placements. That is almost 300 classrooms of 25 students—basically the entire student populations of East High, Derby High, both Maize High Schools, and just under Andover and Andover Central High Schools COMBINED. Or in simpler terms: half the capacity of Intrust Bank Arena.
Alarmingly, at the end of 2019, there were only 700 foster families in Kansas. Simple math assumes this breaks this down to at least 10 kids per foster family. Is that even possible? Not typically by Kansas’ DCF requirements.
So is our community doing enough?
There are numerous community volunteers, organizations and advocates working tirelessly to combat child abuse. Some argue that we simply need more foster families. THAT IS TRUE, we do. Every child should have a safe place to sleep every single night, and every child deserves to be loved and cared for. You could also argue that strengthening families so that children are not taken into state’s custody is a solid basis for prevention. THAT IS TRUE as well. But here is the thing:
We have to do our part!
Yes, you read that right. It is our responsibility to keep kids in our community safe! Here is how:
It starts at home.
- Love and nurture your kids.
- Help yourself! You deserve time-outs too—especially when our babies don’t stop crying or when we are feeling overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, and when needed, ask for help!
- Help a neighbor, relative, or new parents. Take a dinner, offer laundry, or even just a 20 minute visit to hold a baby while they shower or run to the store.
- Get involved! In your community, or at your child’s school, proximity is key to connectivity and connectivity helps build relationships!
- Finally, if you see something, SAY SOMETHING! Our local school district has a hotline to report anything suspicious, 316-519-2282 but when in emergency, call 911!